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Goldman Sachs could be a big earnings winner, GE a loser, Morgan Stanley predicts

  • Morgan Stanley equity analysts picked nine stocks they said will make a move during the first several weeks of third-quarter earnings season.
  • Goldman Sachs could be a winner on better-than-expected revenues, the firm said.
  • General Electric could see a rare miss in headline results, Morgan Stanley analysts wrote.
Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs could be a winner this earnings season even with weaker revenues, while General Electric could be a loser, with a rare profit miss, according to Morgan Stanley.

Morgan Stanley equity strategists picked nine stocks they believe could be near-term movers in the early weeks of earnings season, either due to earnings or other developments.

One of those is Goldman, which could post better-than-expected on revenues, they said.

Morgan Stanley analyst Betsy Graseck said her revenue forecast is five percent above the consensus, and while she sees revenue from fixed income, currencies and commodities declining by 27 percent, she said it is already "baked into the stock." The quarter has a tough comparison with last year, but the 19 percent jump in oil prices could help drive an upside surprise, she noted. Stronger stock markets should help trading and investing and lending revenues.

The stock could also see the added benefit of deregulation. Fed Vice Chair of Supervision Randy Quarles was confirmed last week, and Joseph Otting, former OneWest CEO, is likely to be confirmed in the next several weeks to run the Office of the Comptroller of Currency. Four of seven "key regulatory positions will be filled by nominees from the new administration, paving the way for deregulation to accelerate," Graseck wrote.

Goldman, she said, is the cheapest way to play the deregulation theme since it is less pricey than the money center banks on a price-earnings basis. The company has targeted $900 million in cost cuts and seeks to drive its expense ratio lower, from 66 percent in 2016 to 62 percent in 2018.

GE, on the other hand, could see a rare earnings miss, said Morgan Stanley analyst Nigel Coe. Coe said GE could miss versus the consensus due to its power and aviation results.

"We also expect FY guidance to come under pressure on a revised outlook for flattish power" unit results, which the consensus sees up 5 to 10 percent, Coe noted. He also sees pressure at aviation and shortfalls in energy and transportation segments.

Coe said he agrees with the bears that GE has "deteriorating cash flow, low earnings quality, persistent downside and no clear break-up value." There will likely be revisions to 2018 expectations but he added that earnings can grow past 2018 with improved growth in aviation, health care and renewables through 2020.

Among the stocks on Morgan Stanley's potential list of earnings season winners are Alexion Pharmaceuticals, which may miss on Solaris revenues but could get approval for extending the drug's use. The FDA PFUDA data is Oct. 23 and could drive the stock "materially higher and more than offset the weak quarter," the firm noted. Margins are also improving as a new, experienced management team takes charge.

Others in the group for potential upside are Bank of the Ozarks, Invesco and Thermo Fisher.

Stocks that may stumble during earnings include Amgen, Group 1 Automotive and Popular Inc, according to the note. On Amgen, Morgan Stanley said the earnings could be weak on concerns about Enbrel, which is 25 percent of revenues. Morgan Stanley, however, is overweight Amgen and said there will be upside from its pipeline and recent launches.